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Lockdown boosted UK household recycling

Recent data suggests that changes in lifestyle brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, including working from home, home schooling, less travel and less on-the-go food consumption prompted a double-digit increase in the recycling rate for plastic from UK household collections.

The shift is reported by UK charity RECOUP as it publishes its annual national Household Plastics Collection Survey. The data covers the period up until March 2020 and indicates the overall recycling rate had increased by only 2%, suggesting people were still slow to engage with the recycling message.

But Steve Morgan, the organisation’s policy and infrastructure manager says; local authorities have reported an increase in excess of 20% of recycling during the lockdown that began in March.

‘The evidence which has been backed up by RECOUP member Veolia who have seen a 10% increase in kerbside plastics collected this year,’ he adds. ‘With more people being at home and many changing their ways of working during 2020, initial figures do suggest that when people have the easy access to be able to recycle plastic that they do choose to do the right thing.’

Anne Hitch, RECOUP’s Citizen and Stakeholder Engagement Manager, comments; ’We must not fail to make the most of the opportunity we have been given and continue to engage with citizens to drive recycling rates even further, and help them understand how, by doing their bit in their own homes, they are reducing plastic pollution and giving plastic the opportunity to be kept in the loop. It is crucial we make the most of driving sustained behaviour change whilst we move onto the “new norm”.’

Veolia’s director of sustainable technology in the UK and Ireland, Tim Duret, adds; It is clear that people are making an effort to recycle more, with the results from RECOUP showing that we are going in the right direction with plastics recycling growing. We need a larger increase, and we need this faster.’

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